Jun 222018
 

by Amber Nolan

Just hours after today’s noon deadline for candidates to file for the election, Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin announced that she plans to file suit on Monday to determine if Mark Rossi’s name should appear on the ballot for Key West Mayor. As of the deadline, Mr. Rossi did not pay the statutory fee, but Griffin acknowledged that her office mistakenly indicated on her website that he had qualified for office on Monday.

“It is the policy of my office to indicate that a candidate has qualified for office once they have met all of the requirements including paying all of the fees,” Griffin stated.  “It is also the policy of my office to call candidates to remind them if there is any outstanding requirement for qualification yet to be met.  Unfortunately, a mistake was made on Monday when my office updated my website to indicate that Mr. Rossi had qualified when, in fact, he had not paid the statutory fee.  To be clear, Mr. Rossi’s campaign treasurer was advised of the need to pay the $225 fee on June 7th when he visited the office, however that check was not received by noon today, the qualifying deadline. We did not realize our mistake until this afternoon and promptly notified Mr. Rossi’s campaign. Mr. Rossi’s campaign promptly paid the fee.” 

“However, the election laws clearly state that the fee must be paid at the time of qualification,” Griffin continued. “Technically, by failing to pay the $225 fee by noon Mr. Rossi did not meet all of the requirements to qualify imposed by that statute.  However, I believe it would be unfair to deny the citizens of Key West the opportunity to vote for an otherwise qualified candidate due to an error by my office.”

“I intend to place Mr. Rossi’s name on the ballot when the ballots go to print.  Nevertheless, I intend to file suit on Monday in the Circuit Court and ask for an immediate hearing to determine if that is the correct decision.  I do so to relieve that burden of filing such a suit from the other candidates who timely complied with all of the requirements for qualifying.” 

 The County Attorney’s Office will represent the Supervisor of Elections in this suit.

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Amber Nolan
Amber Nolan is a restless travel writer who calls Key West home. Her work has appeared on USA Today, About.com, Cruise Critic, Frommers, and several other travel publications. Amber’s most unusual project involved hitchhiking on small airplanes to 49 states, during which time she spent two years on the road, or rather, “on the skyways.” She is currently working on a book that documents the unusual journey and provides insight into the aviation community. Before getting into travel writing, Amber worked for an activist, investigative newspaper in London, so joining forces with the Blue Paper allows her to go back to her muckraking roots. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism.
 June 22, 2018  Posted by at 8:26 pm Amber Nolan, Election, News  Add comments

  One Response to “Election Snafu! Will Mark Rossi Be on the Ballot for Mayor?”

  1. I suggested to Joyce Griffin during the June 22 evening Hometown! candidate forum, that she not put Rossi’s name on the ballot and let Rossi file a lawsuit if he wished. Joyce said maybe her office was at fault. I said, if that is so, then Rossi’ name should be on the ballot. Otherwise, his name should not be on the ballot.

    As a Key West city commissioner, Rossi harped ongoing about the city government having fiscal responsibility. Right after filing the mayor qualifications papers, without paying the required $225 fee, Rossi announced he was leaving on a 6-weeks vacation, which would cause him to miss most, or all, of local candidate forums.

    The Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Office is showing Rossi collected $1,800 in campaign contributions and had $19.90 in campaign expenditures. Meaning, Rossi did not pay the 4 percent of the mayor’s salary filing fee for the office, $1,350, but instead got sufficient voter petitions to avoid having to pay that filing fee. Meaning, Rossi had only one critical campaign expenditure, the 1 percent of the mayor’s salary fee, $225, all mayor candidates, including me, had to pay to the State of Florida.

    How could Rossi and his campaign treasurer not know the Supervisor of Elections had made a mistake by showing Rossi as qualified before he had paid the $225 (1 percent of the mayor’s salary) filing fee required by Florida Law? A courtesy phone call from Rossi or his campaign treasurer to the Supervisor of Elections Office would have alerted the Supervisor of Elections Office to the mistake.

    When I pre-filed at the Supervisor of Elections Office, I was told there was a $225 fee due to the State of Florida at the time I qualified, and I was shown this Florida statute.

    The 2018 Florida Statutes

    Title IX
    ELECTORS AND ELECTIONS
    Chapter 99
    CANDIDATES
    View Entire Chapter
    99.093 Municipal candidates; election assessment.—
    (1) Each person seeking to qualify for nomination or election to a municipal office shall pay, at the time of qualifying for office, an election assessment. The election assessment shall be an amount equal to 1 percent of the annual salary of the office sought. Within 30 days after the close of qualifying, the qualifying officer shall forward all assessments collected pursuant to this section to the Florida Elections Commission for deposit in the Elections Commission Trust Fund.
    (2) Any person seeking to qualify for nomination or election to a municipal office who is unable to pay the election assessment without imposing an undue burden on personal resources or on resources otherwise available to him or her shall, upon written certification of such inability given under oath to the qualifying officer, be exempt from paying the election assessment.
    History.—s. 9, ch. 89-338; s. 2, ch. 91-107; s. 538, ch. 95-147; s. 12, ch. 97-13; s. 3, ch. 2010-16; s. 17, ch. 2011-40.

    I can’t help but wonder if the ghost Angela in the Supervisor of Elections Office had anything to do with this?

    Likewise, I can’t help but wonder if the ghost in the Clerk of the Courts Office soon will have something to do with it?

    I wonder if the judge will be open to considering that?

    I wonder if the judge will be swayed by my “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) argument above?

    I wonder if behind the scenes the local bubbas leaned on the Supervisor of Elections Office?

    I wonder if any judge who gets assigned the Supervisor of Elections lawsuit will be counting votes?

    A friend told me that a local lawyer told him that he didn’t think Rossi will be on the ballot.

    This former Alabama practicing attorney aims to be in that courtroom – wouldn’t miss it for the world.

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